Why did England become the center of the Industrial Revolution?

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There are many reasons why England was the first nation to industrialize. First, the political situation in England was conducive to the Industrial Revolution because the government practiced laissez-faire capitalism. This meant that the government allowed private investors with capital to develop private industry. In addition, England had the type of geography that was conducive to industrialization, as there were ample rivers to transport manufactured goods. In addition, goods produced in the small island nation were easy to ship, and England had a large shipbuilding industry that could transport goods abroad. Finally, England's large empire allowed the country to import raw materials from its colonies, such as sugar from the West Indies, timber from North America, and cotton from India. In addition, England's colonies produced them with huge markets for its manufactured goods.

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With human events, it is difficult to ever know for sure why a given event happens as it does. However, there are a number of reasons that are commonly given to try to explain why Britain, rather than some other European country, became the center of the Industrial Revolution. Some of them include:

  • Geography. England had a long and irregular coastline that allowed goods to travel to many places by sea. It also had relatively many rivers along which goods could be moved. Both of these were very important because of the difficulty of moving goods overland in those days. England also had a great deal of coal and iron ore deposits.
  • Population. England’s population was relatively large and growing. Even more importantly, it was becoming separated from the land. The enclosure system and the agricultural revolution had reduced the need for labor in rural areas so there were large numbers of people who could be employed in factories.
  • Economic and political systems. England was a relatively open society for its time. It had a government that was relatively laissez-faire. This meant that the government was not trying too much to direct the economy. In addition, England’s government was fairly stable. This meant that English entrepreneurs could invest in new businesses with relatively little risk of losing their investments to political turmoil.

These factors combined with the general increase in scientific knowledge that was going on all over Europe to create the conditions that allowed the Industrial Revolution to center on Britain.

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